Archive for October 29, 2011

Ok, so I’ll admit I was a bit scared upon receiving an invitation to see Gwar at Irving Plaza this past Sunday.  After a week of CMJ, I thought I would take a break from loudness that is live music, but I agreed to one more assault on my ear drums. Dressed for the Lower East Side, I climbed the stairs, palms sweating and knees a bit shaky, to the stage room, where I  cowered under the second floor balcony, fearful of the impending spews of fake blood (Did you know the band uses 50 gallons on average per show? Yes, I Googled.), and other “alien bodily liquids.” Not.that Im afraid of blood, but I wasn’t prepared to have some of my own shed.

When Gwar finally entered the stage with poofs of smoke, in their full spiky, helmeted and armoured regalia, meatheads, skinheads, and metalheads, circled together in the mosh pit, welcoming the showers of red and green fluids. As Gwar growled, battled large creatures, and sacrificed Snooki on stage, my nerves subsided and transformed into pure enjoyment of the theater meets Comicon meets Medieval Times meets metal extravaganza.  long story short, I survived to tell a good story of impromptu ridiculousness.
These aren’t my best shots, but hey, I was keeping my camera safe…

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CMJ 2011, my fourth ever, seemed short compared to the previous years, as “real life” aka my day job met rocker stalker-ing. I spent a lot of time at very few venues, absorbing what I could of sets that lasted til 2am. That being said, I saw a good dose of CMJ and then some.

Tuesday evening started out at the Studio at Webster Hall where the Surprise Attack showcase was under way, buzzing with the hyperactive Wild International. Next up,  NYC notables, The Click Clack Boom played all new material, amping up the excitement for their upcoming release, a date TBA.   The Rassle, fronted by the thinnest man I have ever seen,  followed suit, bouncing with high energy which continued with Night Fevers and The Twees. I stuck around until the sprightly and youthful,  The Twees finished up and headed over to The Delancey for the Deli Magazine’s Alternative Rock stage where NY residents,  gritty indie rock trio, Raccoon Fighter, amped up the late night showcase. Outernational and several friends on drums, brass, and acoustic guitar squeezed onto the stage, performing “all-star jam band”  renditions of their “future rock.”  Look out for their new EP and album coming soon!

Hump day rock ‘n roll started off  in a slump at Sullivan Hall. NYC-based The Narrative were as energetic as a book on tape (This could be a compliment…) and were followed by the dapper, Nashville-born alternative rock outfit, The Rouge. Afterwards, I scampered over to Maxwell’s in Hoboken, making it just in time to catch Philly’s feel-good Indie rockers, The Canon Logic. Highlight of the night, Lights Resolve, blasted through most of their debut album Feel You’re Different, warming up for their release show that went down Wednesday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

Thursday was definitely the highlight of the festival week. Uptown at Terminal 5, the show I had anticipated for the last few months was finally happening. Alberta Cross got the crowd moving and the adrenaline pumping with tracks ranging from their album Broken Side of Time to their new Rolling Thunder EP to the unreleased track, “Lay Down.” Energy still high, GIVERS, who seemed hopped up happy pills, took the stage, pushing the enthusiasm in preparation for headliners, Portugal. The Man. Portland band Portugal. The Man were THE men. To put it simply, I was blown away. An hour set and half hour encore made for a memorable evening, topping most shows I’ve seen, well, ever. I didn’t let my awe struck ears get in the way of enjoying virtuosic Brooklyn band, Apollo Run, at Rockwood Music Hall, closing the night with lovely tunes yet to be released among Here Be Dragons Vol 1 and 2 favorites.
Here’s Portugal. the Man’s rendition of “Helter Skelter.”

TGIF doesn’t really apply during CMJ. The lengthy nights of music were still goig strong, and as was I, shockingly. I settled at The Studio once again, this time for about 5 hours. I arrived when Morning After Girls, who, to my surprise, were a bunch of gentleman dressed to a tee, were finishing their set in a solemn, almost a capella manner. Right after, Belgium-based duo, The Blackbox Revelation shook the venue with their bluesy riffs, heavy drums, and overall sassiness.  Definitely another band to add to the “to watch” list. Kentucky kids, The Pass, flew on and off the stage with their dancy synth pop before Lindbergh Palace took the evening in an unfortunate direction (Sorry). Bringing the night back up to speed, Kid Savant packed the place, transfixing the audience with their light and projection show and catching, electro-rock tracks from their recently released Drop It on the Stereo. Concluding the night on an upswing, Datarock created a surge of excitement, as crowd and band members crowd surfed to frantically paced electro-rock songs and laughed at clever inter-song patter.
Take a listen to The Blackbox Revelation and Kid Savant live!

My CMJ schedule happened to save the best for last. A stellar line up at Mercury Lounge brought exotically tinged My Pet Dragon and dancy and delightful Hank and Cupcakes to the stage. Black Taxi carried the dance party out, propelling it through Austin-based,  The Frontier Brothers, NYC’s Deadbeat Darling, and late night sets by Austinites, Bright Light Social Hour, who brought the house down, and Fresh Millions, trio with a spacey edge that perfectly matched my spacey and exhausted state.

I couldn’t believe I was still standing by Sunday (I say this every year.), but I managed to get to Pianos by late afternoon for the second annual CMJ wind down, where NYC’s The Shake and Apollo Run were kindly playing acoustic sets, saving what was left of the audience’s hearing. The Young Things, however, took the amplified route, pushing trought the remnants of CMJ’s home stretch.

Here’s a look back on the week!

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